29. June 2013 11:59
The Lotus Esprit is one of the most recognisable James Bond vehicles, second only to the Aston Martin DB5. This one is the actual car used solely for the underwater scenes in the 1977 007 film, The Spy Who Loved Me, and is thus an elaborate submarine dressed up in that lovely Lotus body.
Known as ‘wet Nellie' on the set, it was built by Perry Oceanographic in Florida and driven in the film by retired US Navy SEAL Don Griffin. And he had quite a task - it was powered by motorised propellers through levered steering mechanisms. At the time, we're told the car cost over $100,000 to build - equivalent to $500,000 today (around £330,000).
After its stint in Bond, it was shipped to New York and kept in a storage facility that was eventually auctioned off ‘blind' in 1989. Imagine the surprise then, when the new owners whipped off the blankets and discovered Bond's submarine. Since then, the Lotus has made only brief appearances in public and has never been put up for sale. That will change once RM Auctions opens bidding in September. Will the new owner dare to take it back underwater? I doubt it, but unlike the
Another one of the underwater Esprits was found in the Bahamas and restored by James Bond fan Doug Redenius in 1992:
It had been painted red, covered with Christmas lights and was surrounded by weeds. There was also another gadget car there too, used for the close ups of the retracting wheels. While, these cars were not motorised like the one up for Auction in September, the story of how they were found makes for a great read.